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Trucking hiring shortage could lead to teens being allowed to operate on interstate

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBMA) — Transportation companies are struggling to hire the truck drivers they need despite economic slowdowns associated with COVID-19.

There's a driver shortage worldwide, and local companies are feeling it too.

Lawmakers are even considering letting teens drive trucks.

"A lot of guys drive trucks just because of the freedom! You really don't have the stress of somebody watching you 24 hours, 7 days a week," said Mark Beard.

For Beard, the trucking industry is a good fit, but lately it's been tough.

"Guys are not being able to go to cdl school right now because why? They're not working and not able to afford cdl school to get into the industry, so that's hurting us big time and putting more hours on us," Beard said.

The pandemic hit the trucking industry hard last year.

Because of COVID-19, CDL school had to cut back training.

There was a shortage before, but now it's even worse, and fewer drivers are applying.

"The volume of drivers entering the workforce has dropped drastically," said Nina Eiland, Vice President of Human Resources at Boyd Bros. Transportation.

The shortage right now is so severe, several lawmakers are looking at allowing cdl holders who are under 21, drive trucks across state lines.

"You see all the billboards that say 'been in a wreck with an 18 wheeler? Call me!' and so I think it really comes down to how will insurance carriers respond to that more than how transportation companies are going to respond," said Eiland.

Beard said he sees both sides.

"A lot of people in this industry would say if they could have gotten into it around 21, then they'd be farther advanced financially than they are now. I think it's a good idea, but also it may be a bad idea because of the age and them not understanding you're operating an 80,000 lb. vehicle," said Beard.

Eiland said it's important now more than ever to get students in CDL classes.

"I think we're all in this together, and I think that's one thing people really need to look at. It's not just trucking, it's the customers as well," she said.

The American Trucking Association also said there are recruiting challenges because of an aging workforce, a lack of safe and secure truck parking, and struggles to attract youth and women.

This article originally appeared on ABC News

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